THE Supreme Court has ruled today that Parliament must vote on whether the government can start the Brexit process.This judgement means Theresa May cannot begin talks with the EU until MPs, and peers give their backing - although this is now expected to happen in time for the government's 31 March deadline.
But crucially, the court ruled the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies did not need a say.
During the Supreme Court hearing, campaigners argued that denying the UK Parliament a vote was undemocratic and a breach of long-standing constitutional principles.
They said that triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - getting formal exit negotiations with the EU under way - would mean overturning existing UK law, so MPs and peers should decide.
The Decision of the Supreme CourtReading out the judgement, Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger said:
'By a majority of eight to three, the Supreme Court today rules that the government cannot trigger Article 50 without an act of Parliament authorising it to do so.'
He added: 'Withdrawal effects a fundamental change by cutting off the source of EU law, as well as changing legal rights. The UK's constitutional arrangements require such changes to be clearly authorised by Parliament.'
The court also rejected, unanimously, arguments that the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly should get to vote on Article 50 before it is triggered.
But Nicola Sturgeon has said that the Scottish government will propose legislation allowing Holyrood to have a say in the triggering of Article 50.
The Scottish Problem?The justices held back from insisting that the devolved administrations would have a vote or a say on the process. That was, as described by a member of Team May, the "nightmare scenario".
The Scottish National Party has said it would not try to veto Brexit, but there is no question that having a vote on Article 50 in the Holyrood Parliament could have been politically troublesome for the government. After the judgement the BBC reported that it seems like an unexploded bomb.
And second, the Supreme Court also held back from telling the government explicitly what it has to do next. The judgement is clear that it was not for the courts but for politicians to decide how to proceed next.
That means, possibly as early as tomorrow, ministers will put forward what is expected to be an extremely short piece of legislation in the hope of getting MPs to approve it, perhaps within a fortnight.